Located on the southeastern side of the city of Linyi, the Museum of Bamboo Slips of Han Dynasty Tombs houses, as its name clearly states, a series of bamboo slips found in tombs that date back to Han Dynasty.
Tombs from Han Dynasty were found in many different places and this museum was the first in China to bear a collection of the precious items that were found in them. Bamboo slips that were found in Eastern and Western Han Dynasty tombs, also known as Hanjian, were discovered in several counties of Gansu and Xinjiang and are divided into two main groups: Biansan Hanjian and Muzang Hanjian. The Museum of Bamboo Slips of Han Dynasty Tombs bears a collection of Hajians from the second group.
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The Museum of Bamboo Slips of Han Dynasty Tombs covers an area of 10.000 square meters and is divided into three main collections: the Hall of Han Dynasty Tombs, the Hall of Bamboo Slips found in the tombs and the Hall of other Cultural Artifacts also found in the tombs. In the first collection the visitor can see an actual Han tomb rebuilt inside the exhibition room. In the second collection one will find the famous slips and in the third collection people can see all kinds of other relics found in the tombs. The building of the museum includes a structure of 2.400 square meters built in the style of a classic Chinese royal court. Construction of the museum started in 1981, nine years after the first Han Dynasty tomb was discovered by the foot of Yinqueshan Hill, and it first opened its gates eight years later, in 1989.
Yinqueshan Tombs of Han Dynasty were discovered in 1972 along with thousands of enclosed bamboo slips. The time the tombs were built is estimated to have been between 134 BC and 118 BC. The texts found in them are believed to predate the construction of the tombs. Tomb number one carried 4942 bamboo slips while tomb number two had only 32. All bamboo slips were written with ancient Chinese texts and were of great importance. Thus the discovery of Yinqueshan tombs and slips is ranked as the 10th most important discovery since founding of People’s Republic of China in 1949.
The most thrilling among the discovered items were the bamboo slips of Sunzi’s Art of War (18 chapters) and Sunbin’s Art of War (16 chapters), found in tomb number one. Both texts analyzed military strategies and were lost for no less than 1700 years! Unknown chapters were revealed along with the missing ones.
Before the regaining of the texts scientist were confused whether there were two books from two different authors, or Sunwu and Sunbin were the same person and thus there was only one book. After the bamboo slips came to light it was clear that there were two different books from two different authors. Sixteen chapters from the book of Yanzi, seven chapters from the book of Strategies, five chapters from the book of Weiliaozi and many anonymous texts were found in the same tomb. The 32 bamboo slips discovered in tomb number two formed an Almanac of Emperor’s Hanwudi First Year of Reign in Han Dynasty (134 BC), which is the oldest and most complete almanac of that era.